Create a Private Retreat in Your Home

Living room decorated with small reading nook retreat in corner

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

If your life seems hectic and out of control, why not create a private retreat where you can go to unwind, read, and take sanctuary from outside intrusions? Without adding on to your house, you'll be able to find a special spot that is yours alone. You'll be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to escape without going anywhere.

Older homes have nooks and crannies built in under the eaves of an attic that are secret private retreats. A closet under a staircase is a great place to hide from the world. But if you're living in a new home, you'll have to find your own private retreat.

A private space doesn't have to be small, but it does have to be furnished with your favorite things. If you long for a spot to curl up with a book, you must have a good reading light, a comfortable chair, and footstool, a lush comforter or throw, and a place to set a chilly lemonade or cozy cup of tea. If your everyday dream is to lounge in a warm, foamy tub, put dimmers on the light fixtures in your bathroom, light loads of candles, and have music at hand.

If you need a place to get away to do what you love, make it happen!

Each individual has his or her own thoughts on what a private space should be. Read on to find just the right idea for you to create your own sanctuary.

A Quiet Corner for Reading

If you ask someone what he would like to do with some spare time, undoubtedly, many would answer that they'd like to sit down with a good book, a good drink, and an uninterrupted hour. That shouldn't be so hard to do, should it? But when is the last time that you had that luxury? You'll find it so much easier to enjoy such a private time if you have a special place to do it.

Look around your home. Do you have a spare closet or quiet corner of a bedroom or study? Someplace where you won't be interrupted by a telephone ringing or computer announcing that you have a message.

Be very careful about where you place a comfortable chair. If you must, position it with the back of the chair to the middle of the room so that you can look out a window. Spend some time getting the view just right. You may have to trim the branches of a tree or plant a beautiful window box. But be sure that the view is soothing and not distracting. Place a small table next to the comfortable chair, one that is just big enough for a book, a cup, and a lamp. Don't be tempted to put anything else on the table. You don't want anything to distract you!

Get an ottoman or footstool for extra comfort, and always have a soft, mohair throw over the back of the chair in case it gets chilly. When you have your reading corner just right, close the door, turn off the phone, put on some soothing instrumental music, and read to your heart's content. And don't be surprised if you doze off!

Soak in Privacy

Do you always jump in and out of the shower in five minutes? If so, you're missing out on one of life's most wonderful, yet simple pleasures: soaking in a bath.

Plan an hour of pure indulgence. But plan carefully!

To set a relaxing and comforting mood, pay special attention to the lighting in your bathroom. Install a dimmer switch on the overhead fixture or place a small lamp on the counter. If you have space for a chandelier overhead, the shimmer and glitter of small bulbs will create a special atmosphere. Be sure that you have a radio or stereo close by so that you can lounge with the sound of beautiful music in the background. Nothing loud and distracting, but rather soothing and sensuous.

It's wonderful to set the mood for a decadent bath with candles arranged around the tub, on the counters, or even in cans on the floor. If you use scented candles, be sure not to mix too many fragrances. Find one you like and concentrate your efforts on one scent. Have a luxurious bubble bath or bath oil ready to pour into the water. The bubbles will look and feel fun, the oil will make your skin soft, and you may never want to get out.

Be sure to invest in some wonderful, thirsty, thick, and hotel-sized towels. When you get out, you'll be able to wrap yourself up and hold the warmth inside. You might also want to get a luxurious terry or satin bathrobe. If your bathroom is large enough, consider putting a lounge chair, chaise lounge, bench, or comfortable chair in the room. You'll be able to get out of the tub and not have to go anywhere until you want to. Remember, it's all about creating a special space that has everything you love. Your time is your own, and you'll want it to last.

A Private Place for Hobbies

Do you long for time and place to do some writing? If, so, create a place in your home just for that. Whether or not you write longhand or on a computer, your space should be a haven from outside distractions. If you must share an area of a room, you should use a divider screen to separate your space from the rest of the room. Have a desk, comfortable chair, good light, and an inspirational view. Be sure there is room to spread everything out. You'll find that your inspiration will flow freely.

The lost art of letter writing can be resurrected at a lovely writing desk in the corner of a bedroom. With so little written communication except by e-mail these days, very few families will have any record of the lives of loved ones. Generations to follow might enjoy reading about your exploits and adventures. Share them with others through letters, and ask the recipient to save them for you.

Are you a secret artist with no time to pursue your dream? Find a place, large or small, where you can create to your heart's content. Provide space to set up an easel, arrange your paints, pastels, or pencils, so they're convenient, keep a log nearby to record your daily accomplishments, have good lighting, and be sure that your space has a wonderful, inspiring view. Don't forget a grand chair to contemplate your work. And don't even think of taking everything down when you have to get back to the real world! Your private retreat will be there whenever you have time to go back.

A cozy corner is a perfect place to do needlework. Using fabrics as your canvas, create works of art with threads, yarn, or appliqued items. Don't think that your time spent in such pursuits is time frittered away. You'll be creating heirlooms for future generations, and the work deserves your undivided attention. Have all the supplies gathered in one place and go back to them whenever you can!

Do you love to relax by building model boats, airplanes, or furniture? Then your private sanctuary might be in a dedicated area of a basement or garage. But the space is no less important or private. Have everything set up so that you can go to it whenever you can get away. Tools arranged neatly, materials at hand, and proper lighting will make this retreat just perfect.

Waste Away the Hours, If You Can

If you just like to sit back and dream or contemplate, your private retreat should inspire you to do just that. Great ideas have been inspired by private, uninterrupted time away from the bustle of mundane activities. Don't think that this time is wasted. In fact, you'll be refreshed and inspired to tackle whatever lies ahead.

To have a quiet retreat that feels comforting and personal, you'll want to collect things that are special to you. Even the most humble and natural of things becomes a treasure when it is gathered in your special place. In your private escape, you should be surrounded by things that are treasured and speak to your inner self.

Collect Your Treasures

Do you have a collection of books that give you a sense of comfort? Find a place for the most treasured ones near your reading nook. Favorite novels or poetry can inspire you to continue on your quest for even more. When you settle down to read, you'll be able to glance over to the shelves, think of when you enjoyed reading those special books, and anticipate a wonderful experience with your most current volume.

Is a handmade quilt from your grandmother one of your most prized possessions? Does it help bring back wonderful memories of your time together? If so, don't put it away in a closet so it won't spoil! Keep it out, draped over your favorite reading chair, so that those special memories are right at hand every time you glance into your corner. And think of ways that you can create new memories with it.

Have you packed away beautiful lace-trimmed linen towels or embroidered tablecloths? Get them out of the drawers and find a way to use them in your private retreat. Hang embellished towels over the edge of your bathroom sink or on a bedside table. Use a lovely tablecloth as a valance in your bath or over the small table in your reading corner. Or place a dainty doily over a lampshade to filter the light. You'll love the delicate look and bask in memories of when the treasured pieces were collected.

Frame Pictures of Loved Ones

There's nothing quite as comforting as being surrounded by those you love. And with framed prints of photographs, your quiet, private sanctuary can contribute to this sense of well-being. How about collecting photos, copying them all in black and white, matting them all in one color of mats, and placing them on the wall of your retreat? Or gather some photos and place them in decorative frames on a side table or desktop. Even if you're alone, you'll feel supported and surrounded by loved ones.

Select a Color Palette

Because your private retreat is supposed to remove you from the frantic activities of your "other" life, choose colors for walls, furniture, or accessories that help to reinforce the fact that the area is for relaxing.

Choose Soothing Colors

White is an especially comforting and cooling color and gives a soft, uncomplicated look to any surface. Simple slipcovers or upholstery in textured shades of white look lovely almost anywhere. If you cannot change the upholstery on the pieces in your private retreat, consider throwing a white or cream wool or mohair shawl over a busy print cover. You'd be amazed how quickly the area is transformed.

Delicate pastels feel soothing and remind one of childhood when everything was soft and comforting. Use the colors in a treasured heirloom quilt to set the tone for your little corner of the world. If you don't have a family heirloom, scour flea markets or tag sales until you find just the one that will give your space a comfortable feeling.

Choose Colors You Love

For a gentleman's corner for reading, dark navy, chestnut brown, forest green, or burgundy can be used to set the tone for the serious work awaiting. After all, relaxing is serious work, and should be taken very seriously! Heavy mahogany shelves can house book titles, a beautiful mohair shawl is thrown over the back of the chair, a heavy mug is filled with coffee, and nothing can keep him from enjoying this quiet time.

If you're inspired by bright, cheery colors, by all means, have these colors in your retreat. No one said a personal space has to be boring! Yellow is uplifting and fresh, greens and blues are soothing, red is inspiring! Choose the colors that make you feel your best.

Add Decorative Elements to Your Space

Without even painting the walls, you can bring soothing and inspiring colors to your personal space with decorative accessories, flowers, and pictures. Choose pieces that will contribute to the relaxing and supportive atmosphere of the space you're trying to create.

Get Rid of Clutter

Be sure to remove anything from your chosen space that does not enrich the area. There's nothing so disturbing as having clutter, extra papers, or trash. You want to get rid of anything and everything that does not contribute to the serenity and calm of the area. Books should be arranged neatly; papers should have a place, accessories should be added sparingly. The only things left in your private retreat should be functional and practical and contribute to your sense of well-being.

With everything in place, your retreat is ready for you. It will be the place you gravitate to when you want to rest, want to indulge yourself, or want to pursue your special interests, or even just get away from it all.

Don't feel decadent or wasteful when you escape to your private area. Be grateful that you recognize the importance of taking some time to reinvigorate yourself. Appreciate your time alone. Get reinforced mentally, physically, and emotionally. Your life will be richer for it, and those around you will recognize the change in your attitude and personality.